tips for cleaning jewelry
Cleaning jewelry is easy to do at home - as long as you know which cleaners are safe to use on each of your treasured pieces.
Gold, silver, diamond rings, opals, pearls, and gemstones each have special requirements for cleaning - and storage.
These tips for cleaning jewelry will help you keep each of these precious pieces sparkling - safely.
Take Jewelry Off Nightly
No baubles - not even diamond rings - should be worn all the time. All stones (including diamonds and sapphires) can chip.
And gold, silver, and platinum are easily scratched. Harsh chemicals can damage both stones and metals.
So take rings off when you do hard work or work out hard. (If you lose a stone, you'll never find it.)
You should also take them off when you clean the house or garden.
Household cleaners can damage beautiful stones and settings - and you run the risk of catching it on something.
You'll also want to shed the family jewels when you bathe, swim, or soak in the hot tub (chlorine can damage stones and metals) and when you go to the beach - salt is also hard on these pieces.
We often don't take these pricey pieces off for fear of losing them.
To get around that concern, consider placing a simple ring holder
where you normally would take off your rings. Then the rings don't go down the drain, and you always know where you put them.
Cleaning Jewelry in Warm Water and Dishwashing Detergent
Your fine jewels need an occasional cleaning to remove grunge around settings and to remove oily buildup that dulls the sheen.
Most jewelry can be cleaned by soaking for a few minutes in a bowl of lukewarm water with a little dish-washing detergent and scrubbing gently with a toothbrush. (Never use toothpaste - it's too abrasive.)
- Cleaning silver jewelry: If you use silver polish, be careful not to get it on the stones. Polish with a soft all-cotton cloth as paper can scratch the silver.
- Cleaning gold jewelry: Let soak in soapy water. If gold chains become tangled or knotted, apply a drop of baby oil and unravel with needles.
- Cleaning diamonds: A little ammonia in water will remove any oily film.
- Crystals (rubies, sapphires, etc.):
Soak for just a few minutes in a warm solution of dish detergent and
water and scrub gently with a toothbrush. Polish dry with a clean cotton
- Opaque stones (turquoise, malachite, onyx, lapis, etc.):
These are rocks, not crystals, so they are absorbent. Do not soak or
expose them to ammonia or any other chemicals. Just polish them with a
soft dry cloth.
- Opals: Clean these fragile stones with
soapy water and quickly wipe dry. Do not clean in an ultrasonic cleaner
and do not expose to ammonia.
- Pearls: Do not soak pearls. Wipe clean with a moist cloth. The beads get better and more lustrous with exposure to the skin's natural oils. Do not wear these absorbent jewels in the shower or while cooking. Restring once a year.
- Emeralds: Cleaning these soft stones requires nothing more than lint-free cotton cloth.
Store Jewelry in Soft Fabric Bags
Resist the urge to toss your jewelry into the bottom of a jewelry box.
Not only do chains get tangled, but the gems can be damaged. Diamonds and sapphires can scratch metals and other gemstones.
Here's how to store your good stuff:
- Store jewelry individually in soft fabric bags in a cool, dark place.
- Light causes silver to tarnish, so store silver rings, bracelets, and earrings individually in tarnish-preventing bags.
- Store gold jewelry in chamois to protect its luster.
- Store bead necklaces flat because the silk string will stretch over time.
- Do not store pearls in plastic bags; chamois is best.
- Store opals in a cool, dark place; they will dry out if exposed to light.